Influential religious clerics in Karachi announced on Tuesday that they were opening mosques and lockdown restrictions would no longer apply to them.
The announcement came minutes after Prime Minister Imran Khan’s government extended the countrywide lockdown by two weeks.
Friday prayers would be offered in mosques, Mufti Muneeb-ur-Rehman, the chairman of Ruet-i-Hilal Committee, announced. Taraweeh and Aetkaaf would be held in mosques too during Ramzan, he added.
The government had suspended mass prayers in the last week of March after a spike in coronavirus cases across the country. The law enforcement agencies, however, had to face resistance from religious circles while implementing the government’s orders.
In Karachi alone, three police officials, including a female station house officer, were injured in the past two weeks after they tried to stop people from offering prayers in congregation.
We want to give the government a message that mosques should not be closed, Mufti Muneeb told reporters. Muneeb was flanked by another influential cleric Mufti Taqi Usmani.
He criticized the police for using force against prayers leaders in the country. “The prayer leader’s job is to lead prayers, not to stop them,” Mufti Muneeb added.
Police have registered cases against several prayer leaders in the country for violating the lockdown. Mufti Usmani demanded the government release prayer leaders and withdraw cases against them.
He, however, said that the people should take precautionary measures to protect themselves from coronavirus. Prayer leaders should stop delivering Urdu speeches and limit the time of prayers, Mufti Usmani urged.
Coronavirus has so far claimed 100 lives and the number of known cases has reached 5,812 in the country.